Summer is over, at least at Wingate University. Nervous excitement permeated campus this week as residence halls filled up with students, many settling in for their first semester at college. Classes began on Thursday.
The projected numbers show about 900 first-time students, including a record number of transfer students (around 120). Official enrollment figures are expected next month.
The number of students transferring to Wingate University has risen sharply in the past few years, with this fall’s total doubling the number who transferred in for the fall 2020 semester. The increase is due in part to the Gateway Scholarship program, which enables students who have earned an associate degree from one of six community colleges in North Carolina (South Piedmont, Central Piedmont, Stanly, Richmond, Blue Ridge and Rowan-Cabarrus) to attend Wingate for no more than $2,500 a year in tuition.
Cory Pierre, a freshman from Long Island, New York, drove down Sunday (Aug. 13) with his parents. After visiting a number of schools in the South in hopes of competing in track and field, Pierre, a sprinter, chose Wingate. “I really liked the area,” he says. “I liked the town of Wingate, and also the school’s diversity.”
Wingate is welcoming its most diverse population of first-time undergraduate students ever, with the final total expected to be majority-minority for the first time. In addition, 41 percent are eligible for Pell Grants.
First-year enrollment is expected to be roughly identical to last year, after a couple of down years during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Geographically, about half of first-time students are from North Carolina. Kayman Forte, a freshman track athlete from Charlotte, said that Wingate was one of his top three schools and that it felt like the right choice for him.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what the athletic program is like,” says Forte, a long jumper who plans to major in exercise science.
All told, Wingate will be home to 265 international students this academic year. That represents an increase of 50 students from last year.
Returning students, who moved in a day after freshmen, may have noticed a few refurbishments that took place over the summer. In the Burris building, several offices and the lobby have received a makeover. The baseball field and fieldhouse are in the process of being renovated, and several buildings (the Batte Center, Hayes, South Village, Hendricks, McIntyre, Lowery, PawPost, and the fieldhouse and press box at Irwin Belk Stadium) have new roofs.